The Carolina Hurricanes were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Boston Bruins for a second straight season, this time in the Eastern Conference First Round.
After being outscored 17-5 in a four-game sweep by Boston in the 2019 Eastern Conference Final, Carolina led in four of five games in the first round this season. Four of the games were decided by one goal; the Bruins winning 3-1 in Game 3 capped by an empty-net goal from Brad Marchand with 31 seconds remaining.
The Hurricanes, the No. 5 seed in the East, were fourth in the Metropolitan Division for a second straight season. They were sixth in the conference with a .596 points percentage (38-25-5).
Here is a look at what happened during the 2020 postseason for the Hurricanes and why things could be even better next season:
Potential unrestricted free agents: Justin Williams, F; Joel Edmundson, D; Trevor van Riemsdyk, D; Sami Vatanen, D
Potential restricted free agents: Warren Foegele, F; Haydn Fleury, D
Potential 2020 NHL Draft picks: Seven
What went wrong
Losing Svechnikov: After Andrei Svechnikov scored two points (one goal, one assist) in a 3-2 win in Game 2, the forward was injured while battling Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara in the slot late in Game 3. The Hurricanes scored three goals without Svechnikov in Game 4 but were outshot 16-2 in the third period of a 4-3 loss. In Game 5, they were held to 24 shots in a 2-1 loss.
Lack of power: The Hurricanes were 2-for-15 on the power play in the first round. Bruins forward Sean Kuraly scored the deciding goal shorthanded 1:16 into the third period of Game 3. That left Carolina frustrated after it converted 22.3 of its chances in the regular season, eighth in the NHL
No goals from Aho: Forward Sebastian Aho had four assists in five games after scoring eight points (three goals, five assists) in a three-game sweep of the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers. He led the Hurricanes with 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in eight postseason games, but Carolina was likely hoping for more after a strong showing against New York.
Reasons for optimism
Top three forwards: Aho led the Hurricanes with 66 points (38 goals, 28 assists) this season, Teuvo Teravainen was second (63 points; 15 goals, 48 assists) and Svechnikov third (61 points; 24 goals, 37 assists). The production from Aho and Teravainen was in line with what they had in previous seasons, but Svechnikov improved from his 37 points (20 goals, 17 assists) in 82 games as a rookie last season.
Healthy Hamilton: Defenseman Dougie Hamilton scored 40 points (14 goals, 26 assists) in 47 games before having surgery Jan. 17 to repair a fractured left fibula. He didn’t return until Game 1 of the first round and was held without a point before scoring the game-deciding goal of Game 2. With the top pair of Hamilton and Jaccob Slavin intact, the defense could improve from allowing 2.84 goals per game in the regular season, tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins for 11th in the NHL.
Goalie tandem: Petr Mrazek was 21-16-2 with a 2.69 goals-against average, .905 save percentage and three shutouts in 40 games (38 starts). In his first season with Carolina, James Reimer was 14-6-2 with a 2.66 GAA, .914 save percentage and three shutouts in 25 games (24 starts). They shared the starting role in the postseason, when Mrazek started five games and Reimer three. In those eight games, Mrazek and Reimer each allowed no more than two goals six times.